Review: “Shrek The Musical” excites audiences on opening night

Saturday%27s+cast+of+%22Shrek+The+Musical%22+featuring+Bradley+Stein%2C+Amanda+Tang+and+Darien+Djourabtchi+sing+the+final+song+of+Act+One%2C+%22Who+I%27d+Be.%22

Courtesy of Emily Jerison

Saturday's cast of "Shrek The Musical" featuring Bradley Stein, Amanda Tang and Darien Djourabtchi sing the final song of Act One, "Who I'd Be."

Evan Candelmo, Arts & Entertainment Co-Editor

After three months of endless rehearsals, WJ S*T*A*G*E’s production of “Shrek The Musical” opened on Apr. 17. The show itself is not as widely known as Broadway classics like “Les Miserables” or “Pippin,” but opening night drew a close to a sold out crowd due to Shrek’s recognizable brand.  The show was enjoyable, with fantastic music and jokes that the whole family could enjoy.

The main theme of the musical was very simple: dare to be different. After a gang of fairy tale characters is booted out of the kingdom of Duloc for their abnormalities, Shrek sets off to gain the rights to his swamp back from Lord Farquaad and ends up in a jumbled mess of a road trip with Donkey to rescue Farquaad’s soon-to-be queen, Fiona.

Friday’s cast featured all underclassmen in the leading roles, with the exception of senior Sesha Kammula, who shined as the goofy and slightly bipolar Fiona, and senior Ray Macedonia, who took on the ambiguously large role of the very short Lord Farquaad. Junior Josh Beede delivered a stellar performance as the titular role while juniors Taylor Connors and Julia Souza respectively sung their hearts out as Gingy and the Dragon. Ben Simon, also a junior, was undoubtedly the comic drive of the show as Shrek’s unwanted sidekick Donkey.

Despite small opening night glitches with the microphones, the show was groomed to perfection from the synchronized spinning of the sets by the crew to the colorful and quirky costumes. Costume Designer  and junior Zoe Jansen made sure each fairy tale creature had a lively set of clothes, which allowed the audience to clearly identify who they were without having to flip through their programs. For the choreographers, S*T*A*G*E brought in WJ alumni Bryce Kylie and combined her talents with director Colleen McAdory and senior Samantha Siegel’s skills. One of the memorable dancing highlights was during “Forever” as Siegel and fellow senior Nicole Guion acted as the Dragon’s back-up dancers.

The production was not only visually,  but also sonically appealing.  Music by seasoned Broadway composer Jeanine Tesori delighted while conveying the inner emotions of the leads that may not have been previously revealed in the Hollywood tetralogy. Some of the highlights were “Morning Person,” where Fiona starts her day by tap dancing with rats, “Forever,” which is the Dragon’s powerhouse of a song, and “Make A Move,” where Donkey and the vivacious Three Blind Mice, played by junior Madeleine Gefke, and seniors Miranda Mlilo and Celeste Rubino, lay out the tension between Shrek and Fiona in Act Two.

When watching the show, it was clear the cast and crew worked incredibly hard to create this candy coated world full of everyone’s favorite fairy tale creatures. “Shrek The Musical” is unlike anything else that WJ S*T*A*G*E has put on.

Get your tickets before they sell out at wjstage.com.

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